Suddenly putting Southland’s on hold is a confusing move by the government and developers. Why the sudden consideration of a change in location? What are the benefits of Morgan’s point over Southland’s? What will happen to Southland’s itself? There are a great many unanswered questions.
Former Premier Alex Scott suggests:
“After the second hotel to the east of Southland’s, (Grand Atlantic Resort and Residences), was given the SDO, my constituents, and the residents in Dunscombe Road in particular, started to express grave concerns,” said Mr. Scott.
“I asked Mr. Hunt whether he and his group might consider this development on another site.”
After all the protests over almost a year from a great many in the electorate. Even asking for opinions and then ignoring them. Suddenly Mr. Scott’s constituents voice concern and that’s enough to persuade him that perhaps the developers should be looking at other sites? It doesn’t add up.
So, what questions should we be asking ourselves?
Mr. Scott told The Royal Gazette: “Sustainable development does not mean ‘no development’, it means you manage it and work with developers. So we talked about a hotel, housing and a golf course at Morgan’s Point. We wondered if the Southland’s group would be interested in such a swap, and the answer came back as ‘yes’.
Morgan’s point? Doesn’t the government own Morgan’s point? Will it be sold for fair value?
Any development of Morgan’s Point would require a major clean-up operation. The peninsula was a US Naval base until the mid-1990s and contains much oil pollution.
That’s quite a massive cleanup. Who’s going to conduct it and who’s going to pay for it?
“I asked Mr. Hunt whether they would be prepared to put in housing as part of their plan and the answer also came back as ‘yes’.”
Housing? What kind of housing? Millionaire condos; affordable housing; apartment buildings? Does housing = condos = a lot more profit and is that part of the interest in a different site or is this a chance to improve living for Bermudians? Could it be some combination of the two and if so, how much?
Mr. Scott said: “If they are prepared to consider another site, I think we have a win-win situation. Morgan’s Point would also give them the possibility of an 18-hole golf course, and with the Port Royal course on the other side this offers the possibility of a 36-hole facility on the Island. This would enable us to hold major PGA competitions here.
A 36-hole golf facility? Who will own the Morgan’s Point golf course? Is there a suggestion of selling the government owned Port Royal golf course alongside Morgan’s point to create that 36-hole facility, or simply a partnership between the two in order to hold PGA competitions?
“I also think Bermudians would be far more supportive of the development. I put it to the owners that this site would not only match Southland’s, but is perhaps a better site for them.”
No doubt, but there needs to be a clear picture of what will happen to Southland’s itself. Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce Chairman Stuart Hayward suggests Southland’s should be bought back and turned into a nature reserve and public park for the enjoyment of the Bermudian people.
“A value-for-value trade of Southland’s for land at Morgan’s Point would get our endorsement. We recognize that talks are still underway and that details have yet to be worked out. With that in mind, and responding only to the initial glimpse into the concept given by former Premier Alex Scott, we are cautiously optimistic.
Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, for a prime hotel and golf course at Morgan’s point could be a good thing for Bermuda but, but there indeed are many unanswered questions. Did the location change because of the opinion of a single constituency yet when hundreds, if not thousands, of the electorate were opposed to the Southland’s development it didn’t matter? Who’s going to handle the cleanup and who’s going to own what? What will happen to Southland’s itself?
There are far too many unanswered questions but knowing that the project is on hold gives us time to start looking for answers.